1

Jack Phillips: Cafe Nights In New York

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Jack Phillips: Cafe Nights In New York New York is, and always has been, a study in contrasts when it comes to the jazz it presents. The Big Apple has a reputation as the place to be for those looking to hear, explore and partake in all that's modern in this music, but it also plays home to certain venues that serve as the last vestiges of old world style. Chief among the rooms that traffic in the charm and class associated with cabaret performers, Cole Porter songs and cocktails is the Cafe Carlyle, and few who enter this hallowed space are immune to its charm.

Vocalist/composer Jack Phillips fell under its sway long ago and found inspiration in what he heard there. Phillips, who typically works in pop and rock situations, made it a point to go to the Carlyle to check out the late Bobby Short's performances and, in more recent times, the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, and these listening experiences proved to be transformative. Short's work was the impetus behind Phillips' decision to take the plunge into cabaret territory and Davis serves as his arranger, producer, guitar-and-banjo wielding accompanist, occasional songwriting partner and style guide.

While most rock-associated artists looking to cross into cabaret-style territory do so with a safety net of songs from the like of Porter, Gershwin, and Rodgers and Hart in hand, Phillips took the riskier approach and wrote all of the music for Cafe Nights In New York; in some places, this gambit pays off. The absorbing and refined "Someone" and the NOLA-glazed "The Old Grey Hat" are chief among his successes. Elsewhere, the material can be a bit contrived, lyrically speaking ("Magic"), or somewhat forgettable ("Sometimes It Happens") but, on the whole, Phillips proves to be a strong writer capable of conjuring thoughts of a time long gone and a city worth savoring.

Stylistic authenticity is chief among the strong suits of this music and much credit should go to Davis and the other players on board. Multi-instrumental virtuoso Scott Robinson is superb, whether delivering breathtaking tenor saxophone soloing ("Someone") or obbligato on flute or cornet, Conal Fowkes dresses up the music with all manner of sounds, ranging from pianistic class to vibraphone work to string sweetening, and Dan Levinson's clarinet brightens up the atmosphere on "The Old Grey Hat."

Phillips plays his part of old-school cabaret charmer to a T. While he isn't endowed with a voice like Short's and he occasionally pushes a bit too hard, he knows his strengths and limitations well and finds firm footing during the majority of this date. His first foray into the swanky fineries of upper crust musical living features plenty to enjoy.

Track Listing: Take Them To Manhattan; Someone; The Old Grey Hat; Sometimes It Happens; Table For Two; Let's Drink To Us; I've Got Sophistication Too; I Remember Paris And You; 125th Street In Harlem; Magic.

Personnel: Jack Phillips: vocals; Conal Fowkes: piano, vibraphone, bass trombone, accordion, strings; Klaus Suonsaari: drums; Pat O'Leary: bass; Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, cornet, flute; Eddy Davis: banjo, acoustic guitar, wire brush; Dan Levinson: clarinet; Jim Czak: shaker.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Magnolia Group Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics" CD/LP/Track Review Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics
by Paul Naser
Published: May 2, 2016
Read "The Happiest Man In The World" CD/LP/Track Review The Happiest Man In The World
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "Colosseum Live" CD/LP/Track Review Colosseum Live
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "Sinking Houseboat Confusion" CD/LP/Track Review Sinking Houseboat Confusion
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by John Kelman
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Heritage" CD/LP/Track Review Heritage
by James Nadal
Published: October 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!